Hawaii Bill Could Make Autism Coverage Required

Welcome to HawaiiHawaii might soon be among the list of states that require private health plans to cover autism therapy. A bill, that is being called “Luke’s Law” has been passed by a committee in the Hawaii House of Representatives. An eight year old boy named Luke influenced the committee with his testimony.

There are many states that require private health insurance policies to cover the cost of autism treatment. Other states are trying to get their legislature to approve bills that would require that coverage. Without it, many parents find that they cannot afford to pay for the treatment that their child requires. They either end up going without it, or the family accrues a large medical debt.

There is a bill in Hawaii called HB721. The bill, if passed into law, would require health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism. It would include coverage for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). The coverage would go into affect in 2014.

The bill has been unanimously adopted by the Hawaii House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. One of the reasons probably has to do with an eight year old boy named Luke who has autism and who gave his testimony to the legislators. Luke’s difficulties with communicating with other people was seen first hand as he asked for the help that he needs in order to be more able to navigate the social world.

CPC Chair Angus McKelvey of Maui said:

The testimony of the brave young boy clearly illustrated the importance of early diagnosis and treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Luke’s Law will ensure that Applied Behavior Analysis and/or other treatments will be available to increase the opportunity for keiki and teens to develop the skills and functioning necessary to survive and thrive for adult life.

There are some who complain that requiring health insurers to cover the cost of autism treatment will make everyone’s premiums dramatically increase. According to KITV, actual claims data does not back up that assumption. Instead, it shows that the average cost of coverage is 31 cents per covered member per month. Compare that to the cost of not providing proper treatment for individuals who have autism – which is estimated to be $3.2 million per child over their lifespan.

Image by Ken Lund on Flickr